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Perspective - (2023) Volume 14, Issue 5

Rotavirus infection: Unmasking the hidden threat to child health

Charles Grose*
Department of Microbiology, University of Bejaia, Bejaia, Algeria
*Correspondence: Charles Grose, Department of Microbiology, University of Bejaia, Bejaia, Algeria, Email:

Received: 08-Sep-2023, Manuscript No. ipacm-23-14246; Editor assigned: 11-Sep-2023, Pre QC No. ipacm-23-14246 (PQ); Reviewed: 25-Sep-2023, QC No. ipacm-23-14246; Revised: 21-Oct-2023, Manuscript No. ipacm-23-14246 (R); Published: 09-Oct-2023


Rotavirus infection is a global health concern that primarily affects infants and young children. It is responsible for a significant burden of morbidity and mortality, particularly in developing countries. This article aims to shed light on the hidden threat of rotavirus, delving into its biology, epidemiology, clinical manifestations, prevention and the latest advancements in tackling this viral adversary.

Rotavirus is a genus of double stranded RNA viruses in the family Reoviridae. Rotaviruses are the most common cause of diarrhoeal disease among infants and young children. Nearly every child in the world is infected with a rotavirus at least once by the age of five. Immunity develops with each infection, so subsequent infections are less severe. Adults are rarely affected. There are nine species of the genus, referred to as A, B, C, D, F, G, H, I and J. Rotavirus A, the most common species, causes more than 90% of rotavirus infections in humans.

The virus is transmitted by the faecal oral route. It infects and damages the cells that line the small intestine and causes gastroenteritis (which is often called "stomach flu" despite having no relation to influenza). Although rotavirus was discovered in 1973 by Ruth Bishop and her colleagues by electron micrograph images and accounts for approximately one third of hospitalisations for severe diarrhoea in infants and children, its importance has historically been underestimated within the public health community, particularly in developing countries. In addition to its impact on human health, rotavirus also infects other animals and is a pathogen of livestock.


The biology of rotavirus

Rotavirus is a double stranded RNA virus belonging to the Reoviridae family. It is the leading cause of severe diarrhoea in children under the age of five. The virus gets its name from the wheel like appearance of the viral particles when viewed under an electron microscope. Rotavirus has several distinct serogroups, with G and P types determining its virulence and the severity of disease it causes.


Rotavirus infection is widespread across the globe, and its impact on child health is profound. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), rotavirus is responsible for approximately 128,000 deaths in children under five years of age each year. The virus is highly contagious and can spread through various modes, including direct contact, contaminated objects and contaminated food and water sources.

Clinical manifestations

Rotavirus infection typically presents with symptoms such as diarrhoea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal pain. The severity of symptoms can range from mild to severe, with severe cases leading to dehydration, electrolyte imbalances and hospitalization. Dehydration is a significant concern, as it can be life threatening if not managed promptly.

Impact on child health

Rotavirus infection has a profound impact on child health, particularly in developing countries. The repeated episodes of diarrhoea can lead to malnutrition, growth stunting and impaired cognitive development. Moreover, the economic burden of rotavirus related healthcare costs and lost productivity is substantial.

Prevention strategies

To combat the threat of rotavirus infection, various prevention strategies have been employed:

Vaccination: The development and widespread use of rotavirus vaccines have been a game-changer in reducing the burden of the disease. These vaccines have been effective in preventing severe cases of rotavirus infection and reducing hospitalizations.

Improved hygiene and sanitation: Ensuring access to clean water and promoting good hygiene practices can help reduce the transmission of the virus.

Breastfeeding: Promoting and supporting breastfeeding can provide infants with protective antibodies and help reduce the risk of infection.

Zinc supplementation: Zinc supplementation has been shown to reduce the severity and duration of rotavirus diarrhoea.

Oral rehydration therapy: Early and appropriate administration of oral rehydration solutions is crucial in managing dehydration in rotavirus-infected children.

Challenges and barriers

While significant progress has been made in the prevention and control of rotavirus infection, several challenges and barriers persist:

Vaccine access: Many low income countries still struggle to provide widespread access to rotavirus vaccines, leaving a significant portion of the population vulnerable to the virus.

Vaccine hesitancy: Vaccine hesitancy and misinformation can hinder vaccination efforts, leading to suboptimal vaccine coverage.

Antigenic variation: Rotavirus is known for its antigenic variation, making vaccine development and strain selection challenging.

Environmental factors: Poor hygiene and sanitation, especially in densely populated areas, continue to facilitate the spread of the virus.

Recent advancements

In recent years, there have been notable advancements in the field of rotavirus research and control:

Development of new vaccines: Researchers are continually working on developing improved vaccines that target a broader range of rotavirus strains.

Global vaccination campaigns: International organizations and governments are increasing efforts to ensure vaccine access and coverage in regions where rotavirus poses a significant threat.

Research on antiviral drugs: Scientists are exploring antiviral drugs that could be used as a treatment for rotavirus infection.

Public health campaigns: Public health initiatives are being launched to raise awareness about the importance of vaccination and improved hygiene practices.


Rotavirus infection remains a hidden threat to child health, particularly in vulnerable populations. Understanding the biology, epidemiology, clinical manifestations, and prevention strategies is essential in combating this viral adversary. While significant progress has been made in the field, challenges and barriers persist. Recent advancements in research and control efforts offer hope for a future where rotavirus is no longer a hidden threat, but a conquered one, ensuring the health and well-being of children worldwide.